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Tommy Tallarico

Tommy Tallarico - Fun Amico Conversations

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6 minutes ago, 6502wrangler said:

I happen to be an integrated circuit design engineer. The chip shortage, while real, is overblown and is being used almost universally as an excuse. In my work, after the initial disruption of last April and May (2020) things have more or less gotten into a stable pattern. There is more competition for getting into a wafer run (business is booming for almost everyone) but you can still get your parts with a minimal delay. 

 

I've done 5 chip submissions to the major semiconductor foundry since the pandemic began. Usual turnaround time for this particular process is about 3 months. The first submission was bad and we got parts back in about 4.5 months. Since then, they've either taken the usual amount of time, or they've been a few weeks late. Once we had to delay a run by a month because the fab was at capacity. In one case, we couldn't get our hands on a particular chip for ESD protection. So, we did a quick redesign of the board to put a different chip on. Took a couple of weeks. These are all minor delays and the overall product was gated by other issues, not the ASIC turnaround time. When you design a complex product (such as the Amico), you put a lot of what is called contingency in the schedule, so you can deal with getting your chips a month or two late and still meet your chip date. Or at least you should put a lot of contingency (slack) into the schedule.

 

You may have heard about the chip shortage hurting automotive manufacturers in the media. They are a very special case. They tend to use chips that are made in much older technologies (15 or 20 years old, so far, far from bleeding edge) with some special features (usually for high-voltage capability or high-temperature operation). Car companies are famously conservative, and when the pandemic hit, they panicked and shut down their lines, and canceled a LOT of chip orders (most consumer products companies like NVIDIA & Apple did not cancel their orders). The chip vendors, rationally, shut down their fabs. Now, it turned out these older fabs have had a lot of problems turning back on, with issues related to lack of spare parts for their older processing equipment and many older fabs are still at reduced capacity. This is why the automotive industry is facing a chip shortage. For most consumer products, the delays are minor.

 

The bottom line is, using "chip delays" as an excuse for why your product isn't getting down doesn't really hold much water, in general. Things are slow, but not that slow in the business. And it irritates me to see so many people using for a catch-all "get out of jail free" card.

Sounds like your impact is minimal. Good for you.

 

I am currently working for an education company, we publish all kinds of items. Books, magnetic boards and various kits.

We have a steady flow of materials coming in, however, volumes are low and not all the items we need. We have thousands of back orders to ship.

 

In a normal time, 2 weeks to ship is outrageous.  We are waiting for container ships!  Thankfully I am not in logistics!  I just analyze the data and create reports on different knowledge points.

 

We aggressively ordered materials at the start of the pandemic, but even with that, we have exhausted all of that and our suppliers are waiting for materials too.

 

Ask NVidia how chips supplies are?  If you can find a current video card, you are paying through the nose for it.

 

Bottom line, even if chip supplies are not impacted by covid, prices certainly are.

 

   

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15 hours ago, Tommy Tallarico said:

 

Prioritize the following games that you would like to see deep dive videos for over the next month or two.

 

Missile Command
Dynablaster

Intellivision Pool

Finnigan Fox

Evel Knievel

Space Strikers

I'm torn because I tend to avoid long plays of games I haven't played myself, especially story-based platformers where part of the fun is first-hand discovery. That said I also feel content with the amount of footage already seen for Finnigan Fox, Evel Knievel and Missile Command. Space Strikers and Pool are two titles I don't even recognize as ones I've seen anything about so those would be neat to see previews of.

 

What I personally would find more interesting would be interviews with some of the developers to hear their insights, strategies and approaches toward development. I remember listening to a long interview with the developer of the new Night Stalker / Cloudy Mountain and it was really fun hearing his background and history of development not just with Intellivision but overall game design.

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27 minutes ago, 6502wrangler said:

The bottom line is, using "chip delays" as an excuse for why your product isn't getting down doesn't really hold much water, in general. Things are slow, but not that slow in the business. And it irritates me to see so many people using for a catch-all "get out of jail free" card.

First off, I'm glad to hear that your company has mostly dodged the shortage. If what you have said is the case, then please help me understand why MS and Sony are both saying that there will continue to be significant delays to their production. Other industries seem to be suffering as well. 

 

https://www.zdnet.com/article/the-global-chip-shortage-is-a-bigger-problem-than-everyone-realised-and-it-will-go-on-for-longer-too/

 

I am not picking nits, I really do want to understand. 

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49 minutes ago, mr_me said:

How do you know they don't have a prior version of the OS that was shippable.

That was always my thought as well, and the main reason I never saw it as a problem/issue/conspiracy.


Could be they had something that’s deemed “ready to go and we’ll patch it up later,” but after things were delayed for whatever reasons, it only makes sense to go ahead and work on adding things, making improvements, etc.  New plan, new goal, new completion percentage seems way better than "nah... it's exactly the same as it was a year ago... we ain't done squat with all this time"
 

19 minutes ago, godslabrat said:

They would have indicated in their Fundable if they did.

Like add a bullet point for something like this?

 

  • Used to be 100% ready to go, but now just 80%

 

You see a lot of companies put the “potentially negative” news out there as tactic to win investors?  Seems strange to me, but could be a trend, I suppose.

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4 minutes ago, jsmith73 said:

First off, I'm glad to hear that your company has mostly dodged the shortage. If what you have said is the case, then please help me understand why MS and Sony are both saying that there will continue to be significant delays to their production. Other industries seem to be suffering as well. 

 

https://www.zdnet.com/article/the-global-chip-shortage-is-a-bigger-problem-than-everyone-realised-and-it-will-go-on-for-longer-too/

 

I am not picking nits, I really do want to understand. 

Clearly they're all in on it.

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3 minutes ago, jsmith73 said:

First off, I'm glad to hear that your company has mostly dodged the shortage. If what you have said is the case, then please help me understand why MS and Sony are both saying that there will continue to be significant delays to their production. Other industries seem to be suffering as well. 

 

https://www.zdnet.com/article/the-global-chip-shortage-is-a-bigger-problem-than-everyone-realised-and-it-will-go-on-for-longer-too/

 

I am not picking nits, I really do want to understand. 

 

The main difference is scale. If you're making 1000s or 10s of thousands of a product you are in a very different ballgame than if you are making millions of units. The conventional wisdom here is that the foundries serve the Big Boys first and that's true to an extent, but, on the ground, we can still get parts, but not maybe as many as we want. We certainly aren't going to delay our products 6 months and miss our market windows because we got 90% of the chips we wanted. (and since we always add contingencies for spares, it really means we can ship 95% of our units to paying customers).

 

If you have something that is really in big demand (like a PS5) a 10% or 20% drop in production can have a big impact on the ground. If it is a niche product like the Amico it shouldn't have a huge impact on their operations. They should be able to meet backer demand and get most of the consoles they expected into the retail channel. Keep in mind the PS4 was hard to find for a while (not as long as the PS5). 

 

If you have optimized your supply lines up the wazoo to squeeze every penny out of your supplies as possible (like MS and Apple) then distruptions like this can really ruin your day. if you're a small company like us (or Intellivision) it shouldn't mess everything up beyond a reasonable delay in getting parts (which you should already have in your schedule as slack) and maybe reduce the number of units you can initially ship. It should delay the project 6 months or anything.

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7 minutes ago, Razzie.P said:

Clearly they're all in on it.

If that many people could actually agree to that Illuminati level conspiracy, my old ass is heading for the hills! 🤣

Y'all ain't gonna see nothing but asshole and elbows!

old-man-jogging-vector-id894393294?k=6&m=894393294&s=612x612&w=0&h=IGF_PUdtaglInGL5FBUKoyqR0xoX2YVxunNmXXC1TEk=

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1 hour ago, Starpaddler said:

No, why?  Don’t tell me there’s a Girlfriend shortage now too.  Damn Covid!

I just can’t spoil that. 

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13 minutes ago, 6502wrangler said:

 

The main difference is scale. If you're making 1000s or 10s of thousands of a product you are in a very different ballgame than if you are making millions of units. The conventional wisdom here is that the foundries serve the Big Boys first and that's true to an extent, but, on the ground, we can still get parts, but not maybe as many as we want. We certainly aren't going to delay our products 6 months and miss our market windows because we got 90% of the chips we wanted. (and since we always add contingencies for spares, it really means we can ship 95% of our units to paying customers).

 

If you have something that is really in big demand (like a PS5) a 10% or 20% drop in production can have a big impact on the ground. If it is a niche product like the Amico it shouldn't have a huge impact on their operations. They should be able to meet backer demand and get most of the consoles they expected into the retail channel. Keep in mind the PS4 was hard to find for a while (not as long as the PS5). 

 

If you have optimized your supply lines up the wazoo to squeeze every penny out of your supplies as possible (like MS and Apple) then distruptions like this can really ruin your day. if you're a small company like us (or Intellivision) it shouldn't mess everything up beyond a reasonable delay in getting parts (which you should already have in your schedule as slack) and maybe reduce the number of units you can initially ship. It should delay the project 6 months or anything.

Alright, fair point, well made.

 

Obviously, I have no idea what kind of planning went on behind closed doors. I would hazard to guess that IE had built in some level of contingency, but I wasn't consulted.

 

That being said, in my mind the little guy would most likely be the one kicked to the back of the line, because they are not as crucial to the bottom line of the foundry.* I can feel confident (within reason) that this is the case based on my experience in my own industry. We've had other retailer's orders prioritized over ours because of the size of the order.

Added to the other issues with shifting parts from production to assembly to freight carriers, I can legitimately see a case for delays beyond IE's control. 

 

Thank you for your insight.

 

*Complete speculation on my part

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This is what I see in my head when I hear "Foundry"

QSZwaWQ9QXBp

There might be something a little off about me...

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2 minutes ago, jsmith73 said:

This is what I see in my head when I hear "Foundry"

QSZwaWQ9QXBp

There might be something a little off about me...

Nope, you're doing it right.   The "little off" people are the ones not seeing that, or something similar.

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2 minutes ago, Razzie.P said:

Nope, you're doing it right.   The "little off" people are the ones not seeing that, or something similar.

As long as I'm not the only one! 

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1 hour ago, godslabrat said:

My point really isn't relevant to any continued product improvement.  I expect the OS and apps to be continually improved throughout the lifespan of the product.    
 

My point is specifically that there is still not a shippable OS, as per Amico's fundable page.  To me, it's irrelevant if the product has scheduled refinements if the core release isn't finished a year after the initial release date.

Respectfully, why would they wrap a shippable OS for a system not yet shipping when they could use that time and resources for further refinements?  I and several others can tell you they've seen to UI and played several game (which requires a working OS).  True not everything may be currently hooked up (not that I saw any dead links myself) but you can not argue they don’t work. 
 

Maybe the questions to Tommy shouldn’t be how complete is the UI or e-shop (especially with an ever-moving bar) but rather if they got chips in hand today, when could they realistically get units into customers hands and with a functioning and polished UI and E-shop, and would the latter two cause any further delays to release?  
 

I’m sure they are watching and working to internal release dates, and once the parts are secured and schedules are finalized, they will wrap the UI and e-shop in time to support a launch. In complex manufacturing its called critical path.  

 

Tommy has said its the chips availability/cost thats preventing manufacturing (have you seen the news?) and has been for quite a while.  That is the long pole in their tent and where current focus needs to be; and believe me, once they have a manufacturing path forward, launch announcements and shipments will soon follow.  
 

I’m curious, if Tommy were to answer the above question (and he may have legitimate reasons not to), would you believe him?

 

If yes, than why don't you believe the other things he says (my perspective, maybe I’m wrong);  if no, then whats the point?

 

WRT regularly scheduled programming,

 

If you could only get 2 of the current 8 physical games, which would they be (and without knowing what else is inside)?

 

Mine - Moon Patrol & Biplanes

 

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Tommy, considering all the fighting, harassment and other bs you've had thrown in your face throughout the past year or so. When you designed the Amico with families and children in mind as your target audience. Did you anticipate that you would also attract the Jerry Springer crowd? 😉

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50 minutes ago, jsmith73 said:

 

That being said, in my mind the little guy would most likely be the one kicked to the back of the line, because they are not as crucial to the bottom line of the foundry.*

 

What you said makes intuitive sense. But, as always, the answer is "it depends". 

 

For bleeding edge stuff, really their only customers are the big guys like Apple and Xilinx and NVIDIA.

 

But for the older technologies (the technologies that Amico's venders are very likely using) it turns out that the foundries really have a ton of little orders and that's the way they like it as it keeps gross margin high. So, I can tell you for us, the problem has been that the foundry is running at or above capacity, but we haven't been bumped so they can do Broadcom's order (since Broadcom's or Apple's stuff or whatever is done in another foundry).

 

The key reason is each individual fab only does wafer processing for a single node. So our stuff, and whatever Amico is buying, isn't really competing directly with Apple or Sony for capacity instead they are competing with other smallish vendors.

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1 minute ago, 6502wrangler said:

What you said makes intuitive sense. But, as always, the answer is "it depends". 

 

For bleeding edge stuff, really their only customers are the big guys like Apple and Xilinx and NVIDIA.

 

But for the older technologies (the technologies that Amico's venders are very likely using) it turns out that the foundries really have a ton of little orders and that's the way they like it as it keeps gross margin high. So, I can tell you for us, the problem has been that the foundry is running at or above capacity, but we haven't been bumped so they can do Broadcom's order (since Broadcom's or Apple's stuff or whatever is done in another foundry).

 

The key reason is each individual fab only does wafer processing for a single node. So our stuff, and whatever Amico is buying, isn't really competing directly with Apple or Sony for capacity instead they are competing with other smallish vendors.

So does this extend to displays and related components?  Don’t see any other reason why auto makers would update their designs to remove displays and touch screens. Are you saying that iPhones and others are not competing for the same resources as Amico is for their controllers; and if so, wouldn’t scales of economy significantly favor the Apples and Samsungs of the world?

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31 minutes ago, Starpaddler said:

Respectfully, why would they wrap a shippable OS for a system not yet shipping when they could use that time and resources for further refinements? 

 

The two are not mutually exclusive.  They can (and should) button up the launch OS and then continue work on the revisions to be distributed online.  We're all familiar with this model from our smartphones and PCs.  This is why version numbers exist.  

 

To not have one version of the OS that is complete when shipping dates are passing is... not a practice I would recommend.  

 

31 minutes ago, Starpaddler said:

 True not everything may be currently hooked up (not that I saw any dead links myself) but you can not argue they don’t work. 

 

I'm not arguing that it doesn't work, I'm arguing that it isn't shippable.

 

31 minutes ago, Starpaddler said:

Maybe the questions to Tommy shouldn’t be how complete is the UI or e-shop (especially with an ever-moving bar) but rather if they got chips in hand today, when could they realistically get units into customers hands and with a functioning and polished UI and E-shop, and would the latter two cause any further delays to release?  

 

In other words, what is in the remaining 10% (OS) and 20% (back end) that needs to be done?  You and I are asking the same question.

 

31 minutes ago, Starpaddler said:

I’m curious, if Tommy were to answer the above question (and he may have legitimate reasons not to), would you believe him?

 

If he could answer it in a manner that adequately explained the items missing, yes I would.  And by "adequately", I would need a fairly technical description listing the items that needed to be delivered, and why they haven't been completed before now.  On that point, I remind you that I've already said that software dev and backend infrastructure should be easy to plan within the framework of a pandemic.

 

So yes, I would believe him, but it would have to be a substantial answer, and not the kid of thing that's likely to fit into a tweet or YouTube video.

 

31 minutes ago, Starpaddler said:

If yes, than why don't you believe the other things he says (my perspective, maybe I’m wrong);  if no, then whats the point?

 

Whenever possible, I try to take the Amico team at their word.  Speculation is not helpful.  I'm looking at what the Amico team has said, and what they have done.  Sometimes the two do not mesh.  When the two don't mesh, I think it's fair to seek clarification.

 

 

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28 minutes ago, 6502wrangler said:

The key reason is each individual fab only does wafer processing for a single node. So our stuff, and whatever Amico is buying, isn't really competing directly with Apple or Sony for capacity instead they are competing with other smallish vendors.

OK, I've learned something new.

 

How does it work with the common use items? DIPs, resistors, SMT junk, etc.? If the foundries (Home of The Mage Dwarves of Silicon) are still able to produce processors, how are the other the companies that produce the ancillary bits fairing, and how does that affect the end product? I'm can't imagine that their production is up to normal.

 

I may be wandering off into the weeds.

 

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4 hours ago, 6502wrangler said:

If it is a niche product like the Amico it shouldn't have a huge impact on their operations. They should be able to meet backer demand and get most of the consoles they expected into the retail channel.


Hi,

I appreciate your personal experience and additions to the conversation.

I'm sincerely glad that your company and projects are doing fine.

 

❤️

No disrespect, but the line I highlighted above is very far from accurate. 

I will try to give you a bit more information about what we're doing and see if you will change your thoughts.

With all due respect, you don't know what our BOM (Build of Materials) looks like or contains.  So it's a little unfair to compare what we're doing to anything else.

We have over 700 parts and over 100 of those are electronic components.  The price for everything literally changes week to week over the past year.

To categorize your experience to ours (please correct me if I'm mistaken) and to try and paint a picture that we're using it as an "excuse" and it shouldn't be a problem is far from precise for the following reasons.

You mentioned that you are a circuit design engineer.  I'm sure you are a talented dude and great at what you do.  We have a team of hardware design engineers, mechanical engineers, etc. who have been with us coming up on 3 years.  We also have a logistics team, hardware product managers, revenue officer, financial officers, accountants, hardware compliance & hardware testing staff, retail and online sales teams, etc.  All folks who are dealing with what is going on. I mention this because i don't want you to think that it's a couple of guys in their garage.  We have around 60 full-time employees and they all deal with the effects of the pandemic every single day they go to work.  Trying to find the best path (or in certain things ANY path) to reach our goals.  As a small example, are you aware how it costs right now to ship a crate from China to Long Beach?  Pre-COVID it was around $2,500 - $3,500.  Now it's $25,000 - $35,000.  How long did it take pre-COVID for a crate to ship and to get through U.S. customs?  It went from about 6 weeks to about 12 weeks.  I'm sure you're aware of the 40+ ships literally waiting in line at Long Beach at this very moment.  Would you agree that it's fair to say that shipping rates negatively affect a products bottom line and ability to launch?

Does your product have color touch screens?  Are you familiar with how hard it is to get the crystals for touch screens (even though we started securing and ordering LAST November).


Is your product in retail?  Or is it just made and sold to other companies?

Do you know what our retail margins need to be for everything to work?  Do you have purchase orders that need to be filled to dozens of different distributors and providers around the world?

I'm sure you know and understand that the COST of everything has gone through the roof over the past 6 months especially.  And yeah... the lower the quantity... the higher the price you're going to pay.  You aren't denying that things haven't gotten more expensive are you?  And if things are more expensive (especially when purchased in small quantities) then how can a small company survive if they are selling their product at a massive loss.  What good does that do anyone? 

Yes... there are massively high prices we could pay on the open market or black markets in South America to get units out there.  We've actually had to do similar things and spend a lot of capital were weren't expecting to initially just to create a few hundred development kits over the past year.  And what are the quality of those black market parts when trying to provide the best high-quality experience possible and something that will last as long as possible.  Good enough to send to our first and best customers? 

What about the fact that we are a pre-revenue company?  That comes into play as well.

As someone running a company and surrounding themselves with an amazing and experienced team, you need to take all things into consideration and do what's best for the product... which in turn benefits the customer and the company.

So I kindly and respectfully reject your line above and hopefully with further context you may now better understand that our products are very different and that your personal experience and the product you work on may not be the same as what we are doing and working on.  Which in turn, may make your initial statement seem unfair.


Would that be a fair statement to make? 

Thank you again and I appreciate the respectful manner of conversation and your personal insights.

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10 hours ago, IntelliMission said:

Hey Tommy (and anyone who can answer), do a video game MAIN designer (not a regular programmer) ever play their own game?

 

They probably play it when it's multiplayer, but what about single player games? I'm curious about this. I guess with graphic or text adventures is almost impossible not to remember the puzzles you created, but what about action games?


Great question!

I do for sure.  A lot of times when it's being designed it's not properly tuned... so you're constantly playing it broken.  So when the game is finally polished and finished... it's even more fun to play. 

But I assume all designers are going to be different.  I can only give you my own personal insights. 

From a composer standpoint... some musicians/composer hate hearing their own music when they are done with it and others will.  Same with actors and movies I suppose.

 

 

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9 hours ago, Starpaddler said:

I can understand Crankers and others feeling that things beyond parts may be delaying the console but from what I saw and experienced myself, I really don’t think this is the case.  


Just wanted to bold and highlight this one again.

Isn't it interesting that every person who has actually played Amico over the last 6 months has said it seems ready to go "as is" and they really enjoyed the experience (even a few folks who felt it wasn't for them but respected that others around them were having a blast). 

We will continue on our mission to try and get it into as many peoples HANDS as possible with the limitations and challenges we have. 

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1 minute ago, Tommy Tallarico said:


Just wanted to bold and highlight this one again.

Isn't it interesting that every person who has actually played Amico over the last 6 months has said it seems ready to go "as is" and they really enjoyed the experience (even a few folks who felt it wasn't for them but respected that others around them were having a blast). 

We will continue on our mission to try and get it into as many peoples HANDS as possible with the limitations and challenges we have. 


If everyone who has ever played it has loved it, why not ship it to professional reviewers?  Surely they'd love it too.

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9 hours ago, Oldfool said:

Maybe this is something fun?

 

Tommy, 

 

Do you know if I can power the Amico on and off with the controller. I may mount one in the trunk of my old W12. If I hack the video screens for input, will I have to touch the console to power on or off? 
 

I know if a game requires the lights on the console, it will be no good in the car. Two player backseat simple gaming each with a monitor in front of them sounds fun to me. 


Yo!

Good question.

You can power Amico OFF with the controller but you can't power it ON.  When the console is in sleep mode or completely shut off, we shut down bluetooth to the controllers as well (to save battery life).  Our engineers told me that Sony (as an example) created its own low level type signal so you are able to use a PS controller to turn the entire PS system on.  Maybe something we can think about for the future... but not for launch.  But you can turn the system OFF with the controller for sure.

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8 hours ago, Starpaddler said:

My job is literally corporate risk (these days anyway), and “issue” has a very defined meaning to me. 
 

Risk is something that has potential to affect a corporation in some capacity (usually resulting in a loss of money) but that can ideally be managed thru active mitigation to either eliminate or lessen the consequence of the risk. Not all not risks are mitigate-able though as some risks are just bookmarks against profitability with little that can be done to mitigate, these are assumed and are a more wait and see how things play out)

 

An Issue is something that lacks adequate time or resources to avoid. Every corporation manages their Risks and Issues a little differently, but believe they all have an established system to manage it, especially publicly traded ones.  If a risk is not successful mitigated it becomes realized and becomes an Issue.  
 

In this context, I’d say the shortage is a definite issue, but given where the UI and the 3 pack-in games sat when I saw them 6 weeks ago and WRT the 10/10/21 launch date, from what I saw (and I admittedly don’t know anything behind the scenes), these two aspects wouldn't cross the line to be formalized as even a risk, let alone an Issue.  I also admittedly can’t speak to to the other 3 pack-ins or the e-shop.  
 

As for launch games, I saw many that were launch ready 6 weeks ago and none of these games individually would prevent an Amico launch, so these individually bring zero risk to the launch of the console; there may however be risk with launch of a particular title at console launch, but that would be low consequence to IE (and consumers).


The ‘flip’ side of the same coin to Risk is Opportunity.  You would probably be shocked on how often the same “concern” can be interpreted as a risk or an opportunity, as you would think they are diametrically opposed; they are not, they are very related.

 

With the issue of chips and the resulting delay, any risk that might exist to either the 3 remaining pack-ins or the e-shop delaying the console launch would benefit from a lower probability due to the chip-caused delay, providing additional time to mitigate. 
 

I think what many are missing is that the chip-caused delay has provided opportunities to further enhance and polish the other aspects of the system, but are now complaining that these were supposed to be already done.
 

If you wanted to start building a tree house for your kid and present it to him at Christmas (assuming you could do this without his knowledge, but this is just an example for arguments sake), what would it look like?  What if in October your wife told you she wanted to go away for Christmas this year and wanted to wait until their Birthday in July to give it to them.  Would it look different?  
 

Now what if your wife started complaining to you in February that you had planed to finish the tree house by Christmas and were not yet done? - Now thats what I’d call an Issue. 
 

 


That was amazing.

 

 

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